Who exactly is Starlink?
Six weeks ago, however, his condition changed, thanks to Starlink. Woodward has become a beta user of SpaceX’s internet service, which uses more than 1,600 satellites orbiting Earth to deliver internet access to high-altitude people. As of the end of July, the company reports nearly 90,000 users. “Within the first few weeks, I became a real Starlink fanboy,” Woodward said.
“For anyone who has lived on sticks like me, Starlink comes as something of a revelation,” he added.
But Starlink isn’t designed to just hook remote cybersecurity professors: SpaceX has made more claims than that. It hopes to bring high -speed satellite internet to most of the 3.7 billion people on the planet who now have absolutely no internet connection. Many just make mobile-phone connections-an expensive solution in its own right. (A linked data on sub-Saharan Africa worth 40% of the average monthly salary.)
And that also doesn’t take into account people who have internet access but no broadband connection. Almost the entire U.S. has access to the internet, but 157 million Americans, most of whom live in rural communities,do not use it at broadband speeds. The black community not equally likely to lack broadband internet access, even if they are in close proximity to white (and more affluent) communities. After living covid and an era where most people rely on the internet as a life line, it’s hard to imagine that the fastest internet is still an unattainable luxury to some.
Let’s face it, it’s not clear if Starlink will actually solve much of this problem. “It’s really targeted for less populated regions,” SpaceX founder Elon Musk said at a conference in June. “In areas with energy, we can serve a limited number of customers.” And many of the world’s rural citizens will be opened up because they can’t afford it.
Starlink needs to cut costs quickly to expand its customer base, but it also needs to raise enough money to continue to launch hundreds or even thousands of satellites each year. This is a dangerous needle that can be impossible to thread.
Common satellite internet services place only a few satellites in very high orbits, called geostationary orbits. From a height, individual satellites can provide wider coverage areas, but the latency (or time delay) is much greater. Woodward has used such services in the past but they have always seen them as useless.
Starlink and its competitors, such as OneWeb and Amazon Kuiper, are instead deploying tens of thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). Their proximity to Earth means that latency will be significantly reduced. And while each covers a small area, many numbers mean they need to fabricate the theory to cover the planet of coverage and prevent any loss of connection.
Starlink began beta testing last year and is now available in 14 countries. Last December, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission provided SpaceX $ 886 million as part of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which subsidizes U.S. telecom companies that build infrastructures to help broadband access to kabaryohan.
But it’s not entirely clear if rural America is a viable customer base for Starlink. The most common issue is cost. A Starlink subscription is $ 99. The speeds can vary, but the average user should expect 50 to 150 megabits per second. You have to pay traditional satellite internet companies like Viasat (running geostationary satellites) double the amount to get the same speed. Not bad.
This is the initial cost that will fit you into Starlink, though. Costs for things like satellite dishes and routers come out a whopping $ 499 — and that equipment is sold to customers at a loss. SpaceX founder Elon Musk previously said he expected these costs could reach nearly $ 250, but it’s unclear when or if that will happen. For much of the rural world, in America and everywhere, the price is just too high.
So who were the first users of Starlink? The physical and financial requirements of building satellites and launching them into orbit (although cheaper than before, more expensive business) mean that Starlink will operate lost for a long time, according to Derek. Turner, a tech policy analyst at Free Press, is a nonprofit advocate for open communication. And cost reductions will mean looking at customers more than unconnected rural individuals.
However, early customers are more likely to join the U.S. military, which is when operations in remote areas often rely on geostationary satellites plagued by congested service and high latency. The same is Air Force and the Armyinterested in trying Starlink. Some intelligence experts point to the turbulent border from Afghanistan for example where the service can help.
Airlines want to offer passengers faster and more robust Wi-Fi flying also watching Starlink. Other rural commercial businesses may also find value in it. And of course, there are techy and curious customers in suburbs and towns who have the money to try it out.
In Turner’s view, adding customers will help lower individual prices, but it also means less bandwidth will circulate. Starlink could fill this problem by launching multiple satellites-which it eventually plans to do, but as such with enough subscribers.
Musk said it would take ten billion dollars of capital before Starlink had enough capacity to generate a positive cash flow. It has launched 1,600 satellites so far with no problems, but the ultimate goal of 42,000 is a different matter. “It doesn’t measure as well as wired broadband does,” Turner said. It’s still unclear how many satellites Starlink will need to deliver reliable high-speed internet to the hundreds of thousands or even millions of subscribers logging in simultaneously.
And for many customers, especially commercial businesses, there are cheaper alternatives to Starlink that can still meet their needs. A farmer who uses smart sensors to track things like local weather and soil conditions does not need broadband internet to connect these devices. That’s where small companies like US -based Swarm come in: it uses a host of about 120 small satellites to help connect IoT devices for such use cases. Swarm (recently acquired by SpaceX) offers a data plan that starts at just $ 5 a month. And of course, if you’re in a densely populated area, spending $ 99 a month with another ISP will likely speed you up to 1000 mbps.
In addition, the FCC’s RDOF award of Starlink suggests that rural America is an important part of how Starlink develops. But Turner said this is a misunderstanding, and that SpaceX should not have been allowed to place RDOF bids in the first place, since it would also rule the Starlink network. “I think the FCC would have been better off directing its sources to bring future proof broadband to places where it doesn’t make sense to ship,” he said.
FCC chief Jessica Rosenworcel led an investigation late last year into how RDOF subsidies were provided under her predecessor, Ajit Pai, and saw billions being released by companies. so they can bring broadband internet to places where it’s unnecessary or inappropriate, such as “parking lots and well-served urban areas.” A Free Press report estimates about $ 111 million self SpaceX’s award will go to urban areas or areas that don’t have real infrastructure or need for internet connections, such as highway medians. The FCC asked companies, including Starlink, to return the cause money. (SpaceX did not respond to questions or requests for comment.)
Turner acknowledged that LEO satellites “could be one of the most important innovations in the telecommunication space.” Yet he still thinks services like Starlink could be a niche product in the U.S., albeit in the long run-and sees the overall trend continuing in fiber. Even an emerging technology like 5G relies on thicker networks of antennas that can reconnect back to the wires in the quickest possible time. Cable broadband has always improved over time as companies push fiber networks deeper and closer to customers.
Undeveloped parts of the world may find Starlink to be an advantage, as most areas do not have physical networks such as the cable system installed in the United States in the 1970s, ’80s, and’ 90s. But beta testing so far has been exclusive to the US, Canada, parts of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Chile. It’s too early to know how different this could impact in the developing world, especially if the cost of subscription and equipment continues to be high.
Woodward’s experience is the kind the company wants to copy for all of its customers. But Woodward knew he was lucky to be able to afford Starlink, and that it would be able to meet his needs. For now, at least. “It will be interesting to see how Starlink can hold back when they get 200,000 users,” he said. “Prices have to go down, but speeds and service have to stay the same. That’s for sure.”